When I saw our two picks lined up today, the thread connecting them for me was obvious - proto-punk.
Proto-punk is one of those snappy little titles for a sub-genre of rock - one of dozens that define the scope of rock and roll. And Chuck's pick of a David Bowie album today is a good example of what proto-punk is.
Granted, David Bowie's The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, is many other things, too. But at its core, Bowie's attempt to create a concept album based around an androgynous alien rock star is - let's face it - pretty outrageous, and its affect on the glam rock scene was immeasurable. That, in turn, influenced the punk scene that followed, and from there, you can go in a lot of directions. One of those directions takes you through the cowpunk scene of the '80s featuring acts like Jason and The Scorchers right into the space where indie rock and early Americana converge in a band called Uncle Tupelo - Kendall's pick of the day.
Among David Bowie's proto-punk compatriots was a band called The Stooges which released its debut album in 1969. The Stooges captured a musically unsophisticated band, that somehow managed to sound amateurish and progressive at the same time. Uncle Tupelo would later cover "I Wanna Be Your Dog," and The Stooges' eventual impact on the later punk rock scene is undeniable. That debut record is your bonus pick of the day.
- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb
CHUCK'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Why I Love It
As a music lover, it pains me to admit that I didn't know much of anything about David Bowie until the 1980s. I loved the Let's Dance album he released that decade, but I failed to realize that I was missing out on so much great music from the beginning of his career. David Bowie was the living definition of a rock star. A big reason for that was this game-changing concept album that introduced the world to the future legend's bisexual alien alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, and led to his career appropriately taking off like a rocket. Although it's a glam rock album, it's so much more than any category can properly do justice with words. The thing I love most about it is that it's a space record that somehow sounds like a space record, when I'm really not sure what a space record should sound like. I suppose it's the feeling of isolation that he conveys with his incredible voice that does the trick. This album is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever recorded. Even though it took me a long time to realize it, I agree 100%.
"Starman," "Ziggy Stardust" and "Suffragette City"
Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day
Don't feel too bad, Chuck, I was in my college years sometime in the mid- to late '90s when I discovered this album combing through critics' lists. There's no doubt this is one of the greatest albums ever released, and it also helps you understand Chuck's love of hair bands. This album influenced many of them; ironically, for Chuck, it probably worked in reverse. By exploring the roots of the music he loves (i.e., those glam rockers and hair bands), he stumbled on to another one of his favorite albums. Hopefully, our countdown has inspired you to do the same. Great pick, Chuck.
KENDALL'S ALBUM OF THE DAY
Why I Love It
This is where I hopped on the Uncle Tupelo train while I was living in Austin, Texas, but unfortunately, it had already reached the end of the tracks.
Tensions between the two co-frontmen Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy proved too much to overcome, and just a short time after this album's release, the band was history. Farrar would go on to form Son Volt and record Trace, my favorite album of all time featured earlier in our countdown, while Tweedy would found Wilco.
Both bands are still kicking 27 years after Uncle Tupelo's demise, so things turned out the way they were supposed to be. Still, the giant leap forward illustrated by this record in the band's major label debut makes you wonder what would have come next if the two leaders had worked things out. The good news is, after more than 20 years of not being in touch, the two creative forces behind Uncle Tupelo are at least on speaking terms now. We can always hope they'll reunite for one final collaboration, can't we?
"Acuff-Rose," "The Long Cut" and "Chickamauga"
Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day
This is another album I had no doubt would be on Kendall's list. Recorded in Austin and penned by two incredible songwriters, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, this record is right up Kendall's alley. Before those singers went on to form Son Volt and Wilco, respectively, they put the finishing touches on Uncle Tupelo with a classic album. I think a lot about Gram Parsons when I hear this album, which is another reason I know Kendall loves it so much. Really nice choice here. I'm glad that Uncle Tupelo made an appearance on our countdown.